COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Space Force selected True Anomaly and Rocket Lab to develop spacecraft for its next Tactically Responsive Space mission, dubbed Victus Haze.

True Anomaly, a spacecraft and software company based in Colorado, received $30 million to provide one of its Jackal space vehicles for the mission, slated to launch in 2025. Under the terms of the deal — known as an Emergent Need Small Business Innovation Research award — the firm will match the government investment, providing another $30 million to pay for risk-reduction activities.

“The goal of Victus Haze is to apply state-of-the-art, commercial products to provide highly capable solutions for future TacRS operations,” True Anomaly said in an April 11 press release. “The multi-vehicle demonstration will enable the development of TacRS tactics, techniques, and procedures, and prepare the Space Force and U.S. Space Command to deploy available response options necessary to deter adversary aggression on orbit.”

Rocket Lab’s contract, which came through the Defense Innovation Unit, is worth $32 million.

Victus Haze is the service’s third responsive space mission. Its latest demonstration, Victus Nox, occurred last September when Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket launched a Millennium Space Systems satellite within just 27 hours of receiving initial launch orders.

As part of that effort, Millennium, a Boeing subsidiary, delivered its spacecraft in a matter of months — a process that can take years on traditional acquisition timelines. Once in orbit, the satellite was operational within 37 hours and completed its activation phase in 58 hours.

Victus Haze is focused on threat response and requires satellites that can maneuver from real-time hazards. The mission will pursue similar delivery and operations timelines as Victus Nox, but its goal is to push the Space Force to an operational responsive space capability by 2026.

The service hasn’t released a detailed timeline for Victus Haze, but True Anomaly said the satellite providers are targeting delivery in the fall of 2025. Once they hand off the satellites, they’ll be on standby until the Space Force makes its launch request.

The True Anomaly spacecraft will lift off either from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida or Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Rocket Lab’s vehicle will lift off either from Mahia, New Zealand, where the company has a launch pad, or Wallops Island in Virginia. The company will launch its satellite on its Electron rocket.

True Anomaly CEO Even Rogers told C4ISRNET the company’s arrangement with the Space Force — through which it funds risk-reduction and the service buys the resulting product — is similar to a Strategic Funding Increase award, which the Defense Department uses to help start-up companies bridge the gap between development and production.

“We’re funding the risk-reduction, they’re basically buying the capability,” he said in an April 9 interview at Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. “It’s exactly how it should work. And then we’re looking beyond this demonstration for Victus Haze to eventually a productionized capability that the Space Force will need in an enduring sense.”

The company’s Jackal spacecraft — designed to maneuver around and approach other objects in space — flew for the first time in early March, but the mission was cut short when the company could no longer maintain contact with the satellite.

Rogers said his team is still validating what it thinks was the cause of the issue. In parallel, the company is working aggressively to implement fixes before its next two flights, which are set to occur in the next 12 months.

Those launches will help with risk-reduction for Victus Haze, which will fly a variant of Jackal that features a new propulsion system designed to provide more thrust for dynamic maneuvers.

“There are some fundamental changes and so that’s what we will be doing risk reduction on in the coming flights,” he said. “As we get more comfortable with the avionics and other capabilities of Jackal, then we focus on emergent risks like propulsion.”

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.

More In Space